I’m at home with my wife Annette beside a crackling fire, the sunset, a blend of pink and orange reflecting off the incoming tide of Cook Inlet with a radiance that can’t be captured here. By all appearances this is a dreamy setting. Our home --- surrounded by giant ancient hemlock trees and snow to your thigh. Two dogs lie curled up by the fire. Reggae playing. This situation appears idyllic, but the circumstances are less than relaxing for us.
My kids have been away from us for a week, as we’re preparing Annette to go into her first chemotherapy session on Thursday. Thankfully they are at my sister’s house, entertained by their cousins.
1300 feet down below us rests the city of Anchorage, more than 300,000 residents in what we’re calling “hunker down” mode. Our governor hasn’t shut down incoming travel yet, despite over a hundred of Alaska’s top physicians publicly pleading with him. Instead, incoming travelers are asked to self-quarantine, which I’m sure they will all do. [Bangs head against keyboard.]
My friends in villages all over our state face a scary prospect. The villages are putting self-protective measures into place. They have been through this before. Some enacted outright bans on non-residents, closing down entrance altogether, and others require quarantine for anyone coming into their village. There is widespread recognition that large gatherings such as basketball games, church, and bingo put entire communities at risk.
With the pandemic at hand, I continue to be inundated with questions and interesting comments about The Raven’s Gift. My favorite so far? This: “You must be a bit of a shaman to have seen the future so vividly.”
I can guarantee you this one thing: I am no shaman.
If I had those abilities, in this time of the Covid-19 quarantine, I would first fix my wife. This is a scary moment for us as she faces reducing her immunity in order to shrink the tumor. As a shaman, I would wield whatever powers I had to remove the cancer inside her. If I had the powers of a shaman, I would bring my kids home. I would hug my mom and pop. I would draw a line around our communities and forbid the virus entrance. I would cast a spell on the leaders who have gone astray, force them to put their focus not on corporate finances and instead the future: our children and elders.
If I was a shaman, I would fly over this land and find some way to bring you comfort in this time of duress. I would bring us all healing, so that social distancing would become an old story our children tell their great grandchildren around some future campfire.
If I were a shaman, I would deliver to you all the love here in this room with me now, so you could feel it and know -- like we know -- that we’re not alone in this.